Meow by Lisa Barry

To Kendra Wallace who turned in this fun line as a Story My Friend started. May you enjoy the dark and light silliness of

The crisp fall air hit my face followed by the smell of pie and spice.  If you closed your eyes, it would seem like a typical October day, but as my eyes focused on the bloody corpse on the floor, reality hit. 

I stood outside the back door looking into kitchen of the small a-frame home. The wind whipped through my hair, protecting my olfactories for the moment. I would have to go in. I promised I would.

What was I thinking!

Lillia needed the blood of a shapeshifter to complete the spell she was working on. She said that it was imperative that I returned with at least a pint. Lillia said I must arrive at 3:05 pm to get it in time.

In time? She hadn’t said the shapeshifter would be dead!

I thought for sure I would just have to knock the lady out or maybe I could even sweet talk her. But this?

As I stood staring at the petite little blond lying distorted and bloody on the floor, a cat meandered in from a door to the left. Its orange and white body moved to sit near the lady, just an inch from the pooling blood. Its yellow eyes stared at the body for a moment before it looked at me.

“Meow.”

The strangely deep sound grumbled from its mouth. Then it started to clean itself.

I frowned. That was odd.

I realized with a jolt that I was standing at a back door of a house I didn’t belong to and peering in at a distinctly dead body. I glanced around. Seeing no one about, I stepped inside and gently closed the door behind me.

The smell was bad, but I gathered she was fresh so it was tolerable – and that I just thought that made me cringe. The cat watched me as I searched the cupboards for some way to get the blood from the corpse and into the pint size plastic container I’d brought. Since the blood wasn’t pumping, I didn’t think my needle trick would work.

I found a turkey baster. My stomach lurched. Then I had an idea. I grabbed a cookie sheet and a knife. I stuck the sheet under her head. It was still warm. I swallow back bile. I then sliced the back of her neck.

I watched the blood pool into the sheet. Sighing with relief, I left the body to search for a towel or blanket, something to put her head on when I was done. I couldn’t just leave her there like that.

The house was small but clean and there were shades of yellow in every room. Like she was really happy or trying really hard to look it. When I came back in the kitchen, I saw that the cat had moved. It was now lounging against the back door. When I met its eyes, it yawned.

When the cookie sheet was filling dangerously close to the top, I held my breath and lifted her head. I slid the tray along the floor and tucked the towel in its place.

Carefully, I brought the tray to the sink and putting my container in the sink, poured in the cooling blood. I sighed as I saw it was less than half of what I needed.

I repeated the process twice more without fully vomiting. By the time I put the lid on the container and washed the sheet, leaving it to dry in the drainer, I had determined that I was some kind of macabre, horrible non-feeling person.

Or maybe I’ll have a career as mortician?

I looked down at the pretty girl. I don’t know who had done this, but her life had ended much too soon.

The cat meowed. It had moved away from the door and in fact seemed to be waiting for me to open it. I frowned at it. I can’t remember the last time, if ever, I had heard cat meow at me. I checked my bag for the safe packaging of my spoils and opened the door.

The cat ran out with an odd whine, and I closed it behind me with some sense of finality.

I was about to turn away when a man came around the corner. A handsome young man, my age. He frowned.

“I was hoping you were Gwen. Is she in?”

“No, I’m afraid not,” I answered willing my heart to stay as normal as possible. I can’t sense the supernatural amongst the humans like me but I know what they’re capable of. “I was just dropping off a few recipes.”

That made him frown further. I should have known she wasn’t much a cook by the contents of her cupboard. Damn it!

“Dumb ass, Dumb ass,” the bird in the tree behind me chanted. I knew damn well who it was talking to and I would have killed for my bb gun right then.

“They’re for these no-cook chocolate treats. Really yummy,” I said with a bright dental commercial smile.

His frowned eased a hint.

“How did…why do you smell like blood?”

Thank goodness I’d actually thought about a retort for this one. “Well, that’s rude. I don’t run around asking males why they wake up with erections. Now excuse me,” I went around him careful not to touch him. “I need to get back to work.”

“Ha Ha Ha Ha,” the bird sang.

I could tell he turned and I felt his eyes laser beaming a hole into the back of my head. I really hoped the perfume I put on just for this visit would mask my scent. Actually I prayed. I think divine forces might be needed right now, at least there was a high possibility that my future life depended on it.

When I got to the car, I already had my keys out. I slid into the seat and before I could get the door shut, that crazy cat jumped in. My heart was up my nose he scared me so bad. With no time to waste, I turned on the car and got the heck out of there.

The cat had settled into my passenger seat and purred the whole way to Lillia’s. It was surprisingly peaceful. The way having cats should be.

Lillia was already in the doorway waiting for us when we pulled into her driveway. I swear she could have been drooling feverishly and rubbing her hands together. The cat whisked by her feet and into her house.

“Hello, handsome,” she said to him as he vanished inside.

“I’m so sorry, Lillia,” my voice wobblier than I wanted.

“It’s no problem. Thank you, Holly,” she said, closing the door behind us and holding her hands out to me like she was going to cup water. She was tall and thin, but muscled like an aerobics instructor. I pulled out the container and dropped it into her strong yet dainty hands.

She floated down the hall and to the back of the house to what she called the spirit den. The name had creeped me out until I bled a dead body for her. Now it seems tame.

She was already pouring the thick dark liquid into her cast iron pot heated by a state of the art induction stove. I heard a loud purring and spotted the cat sitting in purple couch across from Lillia, watching carefully every motion Lillia made. It meowed again before settling down with stretch.

Weird.

I shivered. She had told me that she just needed help with this one little thing and then should would make my spell. Seeing as how my little problem wasn’t manifesting right now, I couldn’t help but wonder if she had done the spell already. Like chanted and danced or whatever things she had to do to make it work. If not, this spell should prove to me that I came to the right place. I may not approve of her methods, but if she can help cure me of my…ability, I will be forever grateful. I sat down on the other end of the couch and watched.

The pot snapped and gurgled as Lillia stirred. After seemly forever she declared it ready and after dipping in a large metal ladle, she poured the black stuff into a wine glass and gave a child-like giggle. She gave a glance that seemed a little sultry to me toward the cat.

It started to meow and while I was wondering what her deal was, the meow altered into something else, something decidedly human. I looked over to the cat just in time to see a faint glow dissipate and a very hot, very naked man was now seated on the couch next to.

“Jeez! Uh, ah!” I fell from the couch and landed in a heap on the floor.

Lillia giggled again and came over to me with a metal to-go cup in her hand. She waited for me to stand and then handed it to me.

“Here’s your payment, dear. Now be on your way.”

The man stood, dangly bits and all, and went to Lillian draping an arm around her as she downed the contents of her wine glass.

I hightailed it out of there. When her front door closed behind me, I stood and let my heart settle into its normal calm rhythm.

“Hey!”

I looked around searching for the owner of the voice.

“Hey! Can you get my ball? Please, please, please.”

I sighed and started looking for the dog. I could just make out its nose in the neighbor’s fence. A neon yellow ball glowed in Lillia’s front yard.

I looked at the mug in my hand. I didn’t actually see what it was that Lillia’s potion was supposed to do but I was pretty sure I’d want to give that one a miss. I looked at the dog.

“Hey!”

I lifted the mug to my lips and drank. It tasted like pink lemonade. I guzzled the rest and as it slid down my throat I listened.

“Nanner nanner nanner….tweet, whistle, tweet.”

“Hey, please, please…ruff, ruff.”

I smiled and blinked back tears. Then I picked up the ball and tossed it over the fence. And then I went home.

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